Concerning Rebellion and Revolution

By: Dr. Ted Baehr; ©2001
Dr. Baehr and his colleague Dr. Tom Snyder give an explanation of why Hollywood has such trouble making a movie about the time of the Revolutionary War.

CONCERNING Rebellion AND Revolution

As with many movies about historical events, The Patriot has commanded much attention about its historical details. In point of fact, The Patriot focuses more on the spiritual crisis of its hero, than on the reasons for the Revolutionary War. Regardless, the Los Angeles Times posed the profound question why movies about the American War for Independence do not do better at the box office when other war or rebellion movies do well, including those about the French Revolution.

Perhaps, the difficulty lies in the American War for Independence, which took the word “Revolution” in its real sense, “to turn back to” the rights that the colonists had enjoyed. In fact, as historians note, this was not a rebellion against England rather a demand that England recognize the unalienable rights that King George was taking away illegally from the colonists. In that sense, the Declaration of Independence is a formal legal indictment of King George for his crimes against the colonists. If, as Edmund Burke, the father of modern conservatism, recommended in Parliament, England had recognized this illegal activity and restored the rights of the colonists, the American War for Independence never would have occurred.

Thus, the American War for Independence was rooted in English Common Law, which is rooted in the Bible. As Christian scholar Rousas J. Rushdoony writes in This Independent Republic, “The American political system, thus, is, first, a development of Chris­tian [republicanism], with, as shall be noted, Reformation concepts…. Basic to all colonial thought was the ancient sense of the transcendence and majesty of law.”

Historian M. Stanton Evans, in well-documented book, The Theme is Freedom, supports Rushdoony’s thesis. He shows how the Declaration of Independence is rooted in the political traditions of England and the Catholic and Protestant traditions of Medieval Europe, all of which are rooted in the Bible. The Protestants in Colonial America kept these traditions alive. In their view, King George derived his sovereignty first from God through Jesus Christ and then from the people whom he ruled.

The French Revolution, in contrast to this, was rooted in the philosophy of Jean Jacques Rousseau. It was a thorough rebellion against the monarchy, the ruling authority in France, as well as against the Roman Catholic Church and against biblical traditions of limited government. This rebellion was based on class envy and on humanistic, anti-Chris­tian principles. The result of the French Revolution was a fascist dictatorship based on phony socialist ideals, while the result of the American War of Independence was a repre­sentative republic based on conservative Christian political traditions.

Thus, it is the philosophical and intellectual basis of the American War for Indepen­dence with which filmmakers have such difficulty when they make their movies and TV programs. It was not a war against authority but a war for inalienable rights given by the Creator. This concept is very difficult for filmmakers to perceive. It’s more fun to show people fighting against something than fighting for something based on lofty ideals, espe­cially when those lofty ideals are based on biblical principles. Regrettably, the mass media of entertainment has too often worked to censor these biblical ideals and principles from the minds of the public. Moreover, the public school system has worked even harder, for many more years, to breed these ideals and principles out of our children.

Is it any wonder, then, that movies about the American War for Independence don’t have quite the emotional and spiritual resonance for the public as movies about the fight against Adolph Hitler and his German National Socialists? The situation is even worse when it comes to the Korean and Vietnam Wars, which were wars against the alleged “peasant armies” of the Communists, the neo-fascist, socialist brothers of Hitler and his progeny in the liberal, globalist establishment in America and the mass media. Class envy and anti-Christian bigotry are far more attractive banners to wave in the marketplace of ideas because they appeal to the baser instincts of mankind. They are sinful urges that help people relieve their guilt in rebelling against their Creator and yielding to their laziness, selfishness and pride.

Goodness will eventually prevail, however. A well-made movie which even only briefly touches upon the lofty ideals and principles of the American War for Independence, like The Patriot and 1939’s Drums Along the Mohawk, will finally get its due. We must not wait, however, for the schools, the media, the government, or the society to preach these ideals and principles to our children, who also should be taught media wis­dom. If we do, the Adversary and his minions may indeed extinguish the divine light of freedom throughout this land.

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